IT helped keep Britain safe during the Cold War, but now an iconic aircraft is facing a fresh fight.

The last airworthy Avro Vulcan, which spent several days in Bournemouth this summer at the weather-hit air festival, carrying out an impromptu display on the first day, could make its final flight this weekend, its operators say.

Having successfully restored XH558, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust has battled constantly to raise the cash to keep her in the air.

But now, due to a big drop in donations during the recession and lost income from events hit by poor weather – she was due to fly twice more at Bournemouth this year but couldn’t – the trust says it needs to raise £400,000 by the end of October.

Chief executive Dr Robert Pleming said he wanted to see the warbird fly for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

He said “substantially greater” commercial revenues were envisaged from 2011, but cash was needed until then.

“This will allow us to increase the role the Vulcan plays in teaching science, technology, maths and Cold War history and in inspiring the young engineers of the future. Today though, 2011 looks a long way away,” said Dr Pleming.

Since returning to the skies in 2007, XH558 has become an air show star, not least at the Bournemouth Air Festival.

The trust reckons that the “Vulcan Effect” swells air show crowds by 20-40 per cent.

Vulcan pilot Flt Lt Martin Withers, who won the Distinguished Flying Cross for a heroic bombing mission over Port Stanley during the Falklands War, added: “Part of our mission is to ensure that young people learn about the knife-edge fear of the Cold War.

“If I had been ordered to press the button that releases the nuclear payload, there would almost certainly have been no Britain left to fly home to.”

The trust hopes to complete two more display seasons before the aircraft will have to finally be retired after 60 years of service.

Then, it hopes to open a museum centred around Vulcan XH558.

“But if we don’t make it through October, the tremendous opportunities offered by this magnificent aircraft will be lost forever,” said Dr Pleming.

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